On the eve of Father’s Day, while scrolling through my Twitter timeline, I came across the front of a greeting card that someone posted. The card was produced by a company whose brand is to celebrate the culture and varied experiences of African Americans. The card read: For You Mom, On Fathers Day.
Because I am a single mother, I certainly get the sentiment behind the words. Like many of my sister-single moms, I hold down the fort on every level. Meals, diapering, bath-time, bedtime, doctor appointments, recreation, and transportation are all commandeered by me (along with the much needed assistance of a sitter and my mom when she’s in town).
The mother who raises her child alone, can easily begin to feel like she is both mom AND dad. And in the worst of circumstances, she may even convince herself that because she is doing such a great job on her own, dad is not needed. To each her own, but I will never embrace such a notion. On my best day, I am one hell of a mom (maybe even Supermom). But even on my best day, I can never be dad.
I will never be able to explain to my son why he may prefer to wear boxers instead of briefs (or vice versa). Or how to shave his face. Or participate in the customary politicking with him and the other fellas at the barber shop. Or give him pointers on how to ask a girl out. Or do sports and sneaker talk (although I actually could, it’s just not his mama’s thing). And this is all before we get to the doozies like when he first notices that the adoring smiles and coos from strangers have transformed into looks of fear and suspicion. Or when he has his first sexual experience or negative encounter with the police. Or the day when I feel eager and equipped to help solve the problem of the week only for him to tell me that I just don’t get it because I am not a man.
He will be right about that.
I am not a man or his father; nor do I aim to be. I am simply a mother who strives to be all that she can be to her son without trying to fill shoes that cannot be filled. So on Father’s Day, I need no special recognition or thanks. My reward is knowing that I am raising my son to be the man and father, whom I will one day look at and think: Job well done.